The ebike SX was one of the higher end EV Global Motor electric bikes designed by Lee Iacocca who is famous for engineering the Ford Mustang and Ford Pinto cars. After leaving Ford he served as President and CEO of Chrysler from 1978 and as chairman from 1979 until retirement in 1992. In 1999 he became the head of EV Global Motors, a company formed to develop and market electric bikes in the US. It is said that he was inspired by innovation happening in Asian markets and wanted to bring his expertise from the automotive space to enhance bikes in America.
Powering the ebike SX is a beefy 500 watt geared brushed rear hub motor made by Heinzmann (known for their high quality systems). This is one of the more powerful motors of its time and is capable of moving larger riders. That said, motors from this time period were more prone to having gears stripped if used forcefully up hills without assistance. The motor is activated by using a trigger on the right handle bar. The left handle bar features a grip shifter which controls 7 gears on a standard rear cassette. It also features an adjustable side mirror for keeping track of passing cycles and vehicles.
The battery pack on this bike was built right into the oversized downtube and consisted of a 36 volt 8 amp hour sealed Lead-acid pack. This technology was state of the art at its time but does not rival modern Lithium-ion cells which tend to be much lighter and more capable of enduring thousands of charge cycles before losing capacity. That, compared with just ~250 estimated for the ebike SX and other bikes using SLA technology. In addition to the battery pack being located within the frame there is also a controller board and charging system. Newer ebikes tend to externalize the charger converter in a brick attached to the cord with the plug.
While the range, charge cycles and top speed on this bike are not very impressive by today’s standards, the fenders, horn, shock absorber, built in cruise control and design aesthetics still ring true. In fact, the SX and other EV Global ebike models look strikingly similar to the popular R series by Optibike. By integrating the wires, battery pack and controller into the oversized downtube, the chances of direct damage and weathering are greatly reduced. Considering the 75lb weight of this bike, the front disc brake was a welcome edition for riding in wet conditions. In terms of ride quality, this bike doesn’t feel as stiff as many newer ebikes but that’s due in large part to the weight.
The front and rear lights are ultra-bright and massive when compared with more modern offerings that often forgo lights altogether. The seat post shock makes a difference when riding over bumps and compliments the front shock well. If you see this bike at a garage sale or used bike store be sure to consider the lack of replacement parts available. Everything from the twist throttle to the controller and especially the batteries are hard to find. In the video review above you may notice the bike I was testing has a battery pack strapped onto a rear rack. This is due to the challenge of finding custom sized batteries that can fit inside the downtube. I’ve been told that if the trigger throttle on this bike breaks you can sometimes retrofit a throttle from Currie Technologies.
The ebike SX is an electric bike that lead the way, inspired others to join in and ultimately proved to be ahead of its time. It’s not a very useful machine these days due to the limited replacement parts and abundance of new high-tech offerings but it’s still iconic and fun. For a collector or tinkerer this could be a worthwhile project but for most people it’s just something to be appreciated and acknowledged as a forerunner to modern ebikes.
- Powerful motor capable of moving larger riders and ascending medium hills with pedal assistance
- Super bright front and rear headlights keep you safe at night
- Front fork shock and seat post shock smooth out the bumps
- Front and rear fenders keep dust, mud and water away
- Front disc brake provides great stopping power in wet conditions
- Includes a kickstand and metal bash guard on front chain ring
- No longer being produced, replacement parts becoming rare
- Stock sealed Lead-acid battery was heavy and could only endure ~250 charges before losing capacity
- No pedal assist mode, throttle only
- Heavy bike with awkward frame that’s hard to lock up and a challenge to fit on hanging style car racks due to the lack of a top tube
- Brushed style motors wear out faster and this older gear style may be prone to stripping if pushed too hard
- Built in cruise control made riding over longer distances easier on the thumb